Friday, December 5, 2014

3 Collections of Images for Your Christmas Greetings

One of the nice things about the various options for safely accessing illustrations and photos online is that they are no longer just a resource for those with big budgets but for small businesses and even moms and pops too.  This means that where once certain requirements, such as promotions, business cards or invitations, were handled commercially, now people can create their own quite simply.

With it being the time of year when all thoughts and deeds focus around Christmas, one of the holiday customs where this is appropriate would be the greeting card. While the option of sending electronic messages has some people moving away from the traditional physical mailing,  there are still people on the contact list who might not, though it's hard to believe, own a computer. Creating a few cards for them can be done lickety-split

There are many tutorials online to show you how it's done, but the starting point to achieve it with minimal effort is a great festive background from an online graphic service such as Clipart.comiCLIPART.com or Acclaim Images.  Though there is a slight fee attached, these sites supply you with an endlessly diverse collection of content which you can use without any concern of copyright infringement.

Here's a peek at some Christmas backgrounds available which,  with the addition of  text, will complete a holiday greeting card you'll be proud to send to friends:

Over 5,000 iCLIPART.com Christmas Backgrounds

164 Christmas Backgrounds from Acclaim

11,000 Christmas Card Starters and Elements from Clipart.com

Thursday, December 4, 2014

8 CorelDRAW Tutorials for Creating Christmas Greeting Cards

To paraphrase a popular idiom, one man's notion of junk is another man's idea of perfection. In our commercial world people have their brand favourites. When you believe profoundly in the merits of a particular product, it can be confounding to see people dedicated to the use of a rival. 

My husband, for example, has never, when it comes to cars, owned anything but a Mopar. Yet, while he can provide a litany of reasons why other brands don't measure up,  other  folks  do the same about the Chrysler family.

Our reasons for preferring one brand over another often has more to do with our specific needs and wants than about what the product can do. Let's face it, generally a car is a car is a car. For me, something reliable with the necessary bells and whistles to improve my driving experience is what I look for. Well, that and a Chrysler because after 35 years I'm a bit brainwashed.

How that romance began for my husband involved the same things I appreciate, but there were also  the style, the history and the company track record considered. Then too, there's the fact that's he's pretty brand loyal and not a fan of change for the sake of change. When he finds something he likes, he usually sticks with it. Good news for me.

The bottom line is that typically if we are happy with a particular company or product we tend to stick with it. That includes the type of image editing software we prefer. Some of the reasons for choosing one over the other could be affordability, familiarity or usability.

This week's blogs have focussed on making your own Christmas greeting cards with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and a free online option, GIMP.  So in the spirit of fair play here are some tutorials for the same project using CorelDRAW:

Create a Holiday Greeting Card

Christmas Card Design

Creating Beautiful Holiday Greeting Cards

Create a Holiday Photo Greeting Card

Creating a Holiday Greeting Card in PainShop Por X5

Creative Christmas Card Design Using Corel X6

A Christmas Card Design

Creating a Pop-Up Christmas Card

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

9 Adobe Illustrator Tutorials for Creating Christmas Cards

When we think of image editing the first name to come to mind will quite likely be Photoshop.

It was introduced to me partway through my time as editor of a small community newspaper, and staff from editorial to advertising and production soon realized that it was transforming the way we had done business for the better. My dodge, burn and flash days in the darkroom were over; instead I sat at my computer and played.

Why 'played'  is because with deadlines and a publication date to meet, we received no more education than was necessary when meeting a new piece of equipment or program.  The basics, no more, no less. The rest we learned as we went. Which in the case of the editorial department amounted to not much more than we needed to get by. I could take an image or photo, crop it, tweak it a bit, erase a little something and take away the colour.

There were so, so many times, however, when I wished there was an easier way to do some changes. Working totally with JPGs I had no idea that another world existed, one in which I could significantly enlarge an illustration without losing quality, or effectively erase a portion of it with a simple click.

Taking on a new position several years ago, I was introduced to that world and my eyes were opened to the possibilities vectors provided. The first thing I learned was that to fully enjoy the benefits of these file formats Photoshop was not the best option as it's not a true vector program and would rasterize, or flatten the image, making it no different than a JPG or PNG. 


Enter then Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and their ilk, which open vectors to show all of their paths or layers.  So while I've taken a look at creating Christmas cards in Photoshop, and the free program GIMP in this week's posts, I thought it might be only sensible to see what can be done with vector software. Here are some wonderful tutorials I found for making a festive card in Illustrator:

Create a Vintage-Style Christmas Card in Adobe Illustrator

Create a Christmas Greeting Card

Create a Snowman Greeting Card

How to Create a Christmas Greeting Card

Make a Cute Christmas Card With Illustrator

An Illustrator Christmas Card

Create a Festive Greeting Card With Illustrator

How to Create a Christmas Card in AI

How to Make Your Own Christmas Card Using Illustrator

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How To Create a Christmas Card in GIMP

For more than two decades I worked as editor of a community newspaper. During that time the way the publishing world did business evolved significantly. To begin, a few years after I took the position we transitioned from electric typewriters and typesetters to computers.  As we updated the latter we eventually moved from light tables to computers for layout.

The literal cut and paste practice of the advertising department disappeared too, and the big clipart books of old were replaced with a subscription  to an online service where content was accessed by the production department for the designs.

With the advent of digital cameras, the darkroom became obsolete and the job of getting photos ready for each week's edition was also done in front of a computer with Photoshop. As a result, while I became not exactly proficient in the use of the image editing software, I am certainly familiar with it. Enough that I recognize its value. Being able to use it at work in my off hours for my own purposes was a nice perk.

That advantage extends to me with my new job as well, something for which I feel quite lucky. Call me thrifty but the idea of installing an expensive program on my home computer just seems a bit extravagant for my purposes. It's nice to know that if a project presents itself, then, I have another option.

This is, however, not the case for everyone. Fortunately, an internet search will bring up a number of more affordable image editors. And by that I mean free. One of the ones we have recommended to customers is GIMP. 

In keeping with the season, here are some tutorials on making a Christmas card using this particular software. As a cautionary note, it is best to use images and illustrations from a safe reliable source. While you might have to pay a nominal fee there is no danger of facing a copyright charge down the road.

Creating a Christmas Card With GIMP

Make Your Own GIMP Christmas Card

How To Make Your Own Greeting Card

Create a Holiday eCard in GIMP

Make Your Own Holiday Cards With GIMP

DIY Christmas Card Tutorial (Basic Design)

Create a Christmas Card in GIMP

Monday, December 1, 2014

8 Tutorials for Creating a Christmas Card in Photoshop

Normally at this time of year I start thinking about what image I will use for this year's Christmas e-greeting. However, it crossed my mind the other day that it might also be nice to create a Christmas card for a few special friends.

There's only one thing to stop me really.  I've never made a serious attempt at it before, and I don't easily jump into the unknown.

I guess some would say I'm a cautious person. And in all honesty I can't argue that assessment.  Where others will plunge fearlessly into new experiences, I sit back and consider the risks. While there are those for whom air travel is a common sense way to get around this world quickly, I  need a pretty darn good reason to get in a plane.

There are many for whom the daredevil curves and hair-raising plunges of a roller coaster are what amusement parks are all about.  Me?  I rather enjoy the carousel. I would never skydive, scale the side of a mountain or bungee jump. I don't mind staying close to home for my vacations and feel not the least bit regretful that I don't plan any trips to exotic, though occasionally volatile, destinations.

None of this troubles me or makes me feel inferior to people full of the spirit of adventure, though.  I am a homebody, content in the familiar, satisfied by what I have and  of my abilities. For this I make no apologies.

Yet, there is one aspect of this mild trepidation of mine that frustrates me — my reluctance to try new things, regardless of how mundane. I try to convince myself it's okay, because time is valuable,  I hate failure, so why subject myself to something I might not be able to do well and instead waste precious minutes that could be spent achieving other things.

The answer, I constantly remind myself is, because learning and experience are important. People never know what their capabilities and talents might be if they never try anything.  I'm too old and edgy to take up freestyle skiing, but there's no excuse for not opening up Photoshop and seeing what I can accomplish. Especially with the dozens of tutorials out there to guide me. Like these for example:

Make a Custom Holiday Photo Card With Photoshop Elements

Create a Christmas Tree Card

A Holiday Greeting Card Photo Border

Create a Custom Christmas Card in Photoshop

How to Create a Christmas Card in Photoshop

Design Your Own Christmas CardHow to Make Christmas Cards from Photos

Create Custom Greeting Cards in 6 Steps

Design a Dazzling Holiday Card in Photoshop